11 Chinese Summit Everest; More on Annapurna, Other 8,000’ers

Annapurna

Yesterday, we conveyed the first impressions of some of the 30 people who summited Annapurna. According to outfitters, four of these climbers summited without supplemental oxygen: Giampaolo Corona, Tim Bogdanov, and Hans Wenzl of Seven Summit Treks, and Grace Tseng of Dolma Outdoor. The first three also had no support Sherpa.

Grace Tseng on the summit of Annapurna. Photo: Grace Tseng

 

Taiwan’s Grace Tseng also confirmed on social media that she summited without O2.

India’s Kasturi Deepak Savekar of the 8K Expeditions team also made it to the summit, at 12:25 pm on April 28. Savekar, born on September 5, 2001, became the world’s youngest woman to reach the top of Annapurna. She used O2.

Kasturi Deepak Savekar, 21, on the summit of Annapurna. Photo: Kasturi Deepak Savekar

 

Moeses Fiamoncini was making his second attempt on Annapurna without supplemental oxygen. He failed but survived to tell the tale. He recounts that two hours below the summit, at 7,900m, he began to have symptoms of altitude sickness, accompanied by mental confusion, difficulty walking, dizziness, and nose bleeds. This happened at 9 am.

He sat for two hours, even though he knew the symptoms were not going to go away. Two climbers going up passed him at one point and encouraged him to continue. They were the ones who later had to be rescued.

“I understand their decision to continue climbing,” he said. “They are both excellent climbers with extensive experience.”

Trifish Chan of Taiwan also attempted Annapurna without bottled O2. She failed but says that she will try it again another time. Above, her drawing of Annapurna.

 

Another no-O2 summiter?

Yesterday, May 1, Babu Sherpa, the managing director of Nepal’s Peak Promotion, announced in The Himalayan Times that one of his clients, 41-year-old Indian Skalzang Rigzin, also climbed Annapurna without bottled O2.

Indian climber Skalzang Rigzin claims to be the first Indian to climb Annapurna without O2. Photo: The Himalayan Times

 

This comes as a surprise, as Peak Promotion did not announce earlier that one of their clients summited without O2. Of the team’s Indian climbers, four summited on April 28 at 2:18 pm, including Skalzang Rigzin. Kami Sherpa and Urgen Sherpa assisted the group.

One climber from this group, Palkesh Kalma, said that he reached the top around the same time. As they began to descend, a bad snowstorm enveloped them just 90m below the summit, and they lost their way.

Kalma recalls that they ran out of oxygen. The storm worsened, and the wind rose. At one point, Kalma wasn’t sure that they’d make it back to their high camp.

They struggled for almost four hours to find the fixed ropes in bad visibility. Finally, with the help of a Sherpa from one of the other groups, they found it and then started to descend. They safely reached their Camp 4 at 6,700m at 12:30 am. Kalma, who climbed with O2, had been on the go for more than 27 hours.

Palkesh Kalma summited, then a snowstorm swept in, pinning them down for hours. Photo: Frame from a video by Palkesh Kalma

 

Unidentified rescue

We know that a helicopter longlined one Indian climber to safety on April 29, as everyone struggled to descend. The Indian was in critical condition from severe AMS. The helo later airlifted him to a Kathmandu hospital. We still do not know the identity of this person or whether he summited.

Giampaolo Corona, one of the two who became lost after reaching the summit and also needed rescue, said that the storm caused him to lose his way to Camp 4. Corona then spent two nights in the open at over 7,000m, without a tent or water.

A ravaged Giampaolo Corona in the hospital in Katmandu, with friends. Photo: Arjun Vajpai

 

Tim Bogdanov, who seems cheerful despite his frostbite, also remains in the hospital.

Until now, we have had no news from the third climber to summit Annapurna without oxygen or a personal Sherpa. Unlike his two companions, Hans Wenzl of Austria managed to reach Base Camp safely.

In an interview with Stefan Nestler, Wenzl said that the three climbers had placed their Camp 4 at 7,000m, 300m higher than the other teams. From there, they began their summit push.

The power of positive thinking: Tim Bogdanov in the hospital, with friends. Photo: Arjun Vajpai

 

The three of them (Wenzl, Bogdanov, and Corona) did not know each other beforehand, says Wenzl. But since they were going in the same style, they teamed up.

Each of the three had his own tent. Corona, Bogdanov, and Wenzl started for the summit at the same time, around 1:30 am. Wenzl and Corona went quickly for three hours. Bogdanov was slower from the start.

Three hours after leaving Camp 4, Corona slowed down, but Wenzl kept his relatively fast pace. He knew that in the afternoon, the weather would deteriorate.

Hans Wenzl on the summit of Annapurna. Photo: Hans Wenzl/Abenteuer-berg.de

 

”As I descended back from the summit, I met Tim [Bogdanov] first, still going up. And then Giampi [Corona], which was a surprise to me, as I actually thought he turned back,” Wenzl told Stefan Nestler.

Around 4 pm, the storm hit him too, and he had a lot of trouble finding his tent. Eventually, he did. However, Corona and Bogdanov did not reach Camp 4 that night. This was Wenzl’s tenth 8,000m summit without bottled oxygen.

Everest

On the Tibetan side of Everest, a team of 11 Chinese summited on April 30, according to Mingma G.

Meanwhile, on the Nepal side, the groups continue to acclimatize, and the Sherpas are preparing to fix the ropes to Camp 4.

David Goettler will again try to climb without O2. Goettler already climbed Mera Peak this season to acclimatize. ”It will be only one more dent in my ego if it doesn’t work out,” he wrote.

David Göttler ready for the next try. Photo: David Göttler

 

Marc Batard, who is trying to avoid the Khumbu Icefall by going by the Nuptse side, is making progress. Recently, he and his son Alan reached 6,000m via the new route. Batard has now had to stop for a few days because of an illness. The 70-year-old former speed climber aims to climb Everest without bottled O2.

Pasang and his son on Batard’s new route. Photo: Marc Batard

 

On Makalu, Kangchenjunga, and Lhotse, the acclimatization rounds continue.

Szilard Suhajda of Hungary will attempt Lhotse without bottled oxygen or personal Sherpa support. He has already spent two nights at 7,300m and will push for the summit soon.

Toward the end of this week, there may be a new summit attempt on Kangchenjunga, according to Nepali climber Purnima Shreshta.

On the South Face of Lhotse, the Sherpa members of Hong Sung Taek’s team have already fixed the ropes almost to Camp 2. Climbers are doing their rotations above Camp 1.

In Dhaulagiri, the few teams in Base Camp continue to wait for a suitable weather window.

Climbers acclimatize on the lower section of the South Face of Lhotse. Photo: Pasang Rinzee

@KrisAnnapurna reports about outdoor activities, current expeditions, and stories related to the history of mountaineering in the Karakoram, Himalaya, Tien Shan, and other ranges.


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Poor climber
Poor climber
21 days ago

Absolutely amazing reporting! Thanks so much for the details.

All these summits really reinforce the situation and the fact that mountaineering on 8000m has become an absolute circus and there really is no glory involved. Most folks are looking for fame through being the first person to do this or that. This is only going to get worse. 8000m peaks have now become trash and the glory is gone. Folks should stop boasting about their summits because anyone and everyone can do it these days.

Yours truly,
Poor climber

Peter Flynn
Peter Flynn
21 days ago
Reply to  Poor climber

Maybe a bit harsh but at least there are some climbers getting up without Sherpa support and no tanks of O2 on their backs. You can’t knock those climbers. The rest you are right about.

damiengildea
Editor
21 days ago
Reply to  Peter Flynn

But they do have Sherpa support though – it’s just indirect support.

Does anyone think these four no-O2 climbers would have climbed Annapurna just by themselves without the Sherpas (paid for by other climbers) finding and making the route, fixing the ropes, breaking trail to the summit etc? No way.

Jack
Jack
21 days ago
Reply to  damiengildea

Skalzang Rigzin is an extremely strong mountain guide and search & rescue operator in Ladakh. He’s been fixing lines on technical 7000m+ peaks every year in India for the last 2 decades. He’s also led several exploratory efforts in the Siachen region. More importantly, he consistently makes an effort to ensure that he is able to transfer his knowledge to the mountain youth. 🙂

Climbing Annapurna unassisted is certainly well within his skillset.

But having the (financial among others) resources to plan and execute is very challenging.

Last edited 21 days ago by Jack
Roberta twogood
Roberta twogood
21 days ago
Reply to  Poor climber

Couldn’t have said it better myself

W W
W W
21 days ago
Reply to  Poor climber

I think that I mostly share your sentiment – but are these climbers really “boasting”? I mostly just see factual reporting, not grandiose ego spraying.

Stephen Court
Stephen Court
20 days ago
Reply to  Poor climber

Poor climber your condescension will be unwelcome by many. There are many great climbers attempting 8000s either presently or in the near future – their skills, fitness and mental power will be incredible. 8000m peaks are fabulous and fatalities will continue, even amongst highly competent climbers – an avalanche on Annapurna most certainly does not make it “trash”. Anyone and everyone can do it these days” – inherent nonsense and is a slap in the face to the families of climbers who have died trying. Your only correct assertion is that of Kris’s usual excellent reporting.

Yar
Yar
19 days ago
Reply to  Stephen Court

You can say anything on the internet

Shivering Yeti
Shivering Yeti
21 days ago

Interesting that Hans Wenzl was wearing Schladminger mittens. They are good.

damiengildea
Editor
21 days ago
Reply to  Shivering Yeti

They’re commonly referred to as ‘Dachstein’ mitts. They give much better grip than modern insulated mitts, and are more breathable.

Big Chunguss
Big Chunguss
14 days ago

Hmmm… I’m not so sure that reports of Chinese anything accomplishing difficult tasks, including climbing/mountaineering, is credible anymore. Say what you want, but anyone who has to keep in mind that their private endeavors will be reviewed and scrutinized in order to promote the best image possible for the Chinese Communist Party are probably being persuaded or influenced with unfortunate consequences for non-compliance.